Ricky Gervais, Mark Rylance, Twiggy, and Others Call For Ban That Would Stop Children From Attending Hunts

Posted by on October 28, 2023 | Permalink

Following the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s recent recommendation that children be shielded from “exposure to violence, such as … violence inflicted on animals”, comedian Ricky Gervais, actor Sir Mark Rylance, supermodel Dame Twiggy Lawson, and others sent a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to introduce legislation that would prohibit children from witnessing or participating in hunting activities.

The letter was cosigned by PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk and is also supported by influencer and actor Gemma Atkinson, television presenter Kirsty Gallacher, actors Amanda Abbington and Peter Egan, singer Shirlie Kemp, sailor Tracy Edwards, and commentator and former cricketer Alan Wilkins.

Early Exposure to Violence

Watching wildlife being terrorised, shot down, or otherwise slaughtered is inarguably traumatic for children to witness. It can be psychologically scarring for young people, most of whom have a natural empathy for animals.

Witnessing animals being killed for human entertainment can leave impressionable young people profoundly disturbed and desensitise them to animal suffering. It teaches children that the lives of others are not valuable and that it’s acceptable – even enjoyable – to inflict pain on and torment them.

There are well-established links between cruelty to animals in childhood and antisocial behaviour in adulthood. According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, witnessing cruelty or neglect may lead children to engage in abuse towards humans and other animals in the future.

Protection Is Needed

Certain hunting groups start grooming children as young as 4 to chase foxes to their deaths. While the official line may be to allow only those over the age of 12 to use guns, some parents start teaching kids to shoot as young as age 3.

Hunts are inherently dangerous for children. In September this year, an 11-year-old boy was shot in the hip during a hunting trip in Sussex, leaving him with potentially life-changing injuries. And in 2021, a 2-year-old girl was fatally injured during a fox hunt in Yorkshire.

Hunts Are Horrifying for Children and Animals

Animals killed for fun by hunters have the same capacity to suffer and feel pain as the dogs and cats or any other family members we share our homes with. Yet foxes, deer, and other animals are chased, terrorised, and killed in gruesome ways.

Even though the Hunting Act has made it illegal to hunt wildlife with dogs in England and Wales since 2004 and it has been prohibited in Scotland since 2002, depraved hunters still gather to do just that. In 2021, a Boxing Day hunt in Warwickshire resulted in a pack of dogs tearing chunks of flesh from a terrified deer, and in February this year, footage of a fear-stricken fox being dug out of their den and ripped apart by dogs was made public. Countless other sentient beings have been viciously killed across the country in the name of this sick entertainment since then.

Join the Campaign

To help young people thrive, it’s essential that we take measures to protect them from witnessing acts of casual violence against animals.

Will you join the campaign and sign PETA’s petition to the prime minister and the minister for children, families and wellbeing?